Highgate

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This article is about the London suburb. For other places, see Highgate (disambiguation).
Highgate
Hampstead Heath 7.JPG
Highgate seen from Hampstead Heath
Highgate is located in Greater London
Highgate
Highgate
 Highgate shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ285875
London borough Camden
Haringey
Islington
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district N6
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Holborn and St Pancras
London Assembly Barnet and Camden
Enfield and Haringey
North East
List of places
UK
England
London

Coordinates: 51°34′18″N 0°08′41″W / 51.5716°N 0.1448°W / 51.5716; -0.1448

Highgate (/ˈhɡt/ or /ˈhɡt/) is a suburban area of north London at the north-eastern corner of Hampstead Heath, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north north-west of Charing Cross.

Highgate is one of the most expensive London suburbs in which to live.[1] It has an active conservation body, the Highgate Society, to protect its character.

Until late Victorian times it was a distinct village outside London, sitting astride the main road to the north. The area retains many green expanses including the eastern part of Hampstead Heath, three ancient woods,[2] Waterlow Park and the eastern-facing slopes known as Highgate bowl.

At its centre is Highgate village, a collection of largely Georgian shops, pubs, restaurants and residential streets,[3] interspersed with diverse landmarks such as St Michael's Church and steeple, St. Joseph's Church and its green copper dome, Highgate School (1565), Jacksons Lane arts centre housed in a Grade II listed former church, the Gatehouse Inn dating from 1670[4] and Berthold Lubetkin's 1930s Highpoint buildings. Highgate also contains the Victorian cemetery in which the Communist philosopher Karl Marx is buried, and many other notable people.

The village is at the top of North Hill which provides views across London: it is 129 metres (423 ft) above sea level at its highest point.[5]

The area is divided between three London boroughs: Haringey in the north, Camden in the south and west, and Islington in the south and east. The postal district is N6.

History[edit]

View of Highgate, John Constable, 1st quarter of 19th century.

Historically, Highgate adjoined the Bishop of London's hunting estate. Highgate gets its name from these hunting grounds, as there was a high, deer-proof hedge surrounding the estate: 'the gate in the hedge'.[6]

The bishop kept a toll-house where one of the main northward roads out of London entered his land. A number of pubs sprang up along the route, one of which, the Gatehouse, commemorates the toll-house.

In later centuries Highgate was associated with the highwayman Dick Turpin.

Hampstead Lane and Highgate Hill contain the red brick Victorian buildings of Highgate School and its adjacent Chapel of St Michael. The school has played a paramount role in the life of the village and has existed on its site since its founding was permitted by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I in 1565.

The area north of the High Street and Hampstead Lane was part of Hornsey parish and also later the Municipal Borough of Hornsey and the seat of that borough's governing body for many years.

Highgate Hill, the steep street linking Archway (traditionally called part of Upper Holloway) and Highgate village, was the route of the first cable car to be built in Europe. It operated between 1884 and 1909.

Like much of London, Highgate suffered damage during World War II by German air raids. The local tube station was used as a bomb shelter.

Transport and locale[edit]

The Angel Inn
The Duke's Head

Nearest places[edit]

Nearest tube stations[edit]

Places of interest[edit]

Highgate is known for its pubs which line the old high street and surrounding streets. Some notable favourites are the Angel, the Flask, the Duke's Head and the Wrestlers.

Pronunciation[edit]

The name of the village is commonly /ˈhɡt/; however, the London Underground in announcements at Highgate tube station[7] uses the alternative pronunciation of /ˈhɡt/, where the final syllable matches the last syllable in "frigate".

Demography[edit]

The 2011 census showed that the Highgate ward of Haringey was 82% white (60% British, 19% Other, 3% Irish).[8] The Highgate ward of Camden meanwhile was 80% white (61% British, 15% Other, 4% Irish), and 3% Black African.[9]

Education[edit]

For details of education in the Haringey portion of Highgate see the London Borough of Haringey article.

Modern notoriety[edit]

On Friday 26 August 1988, Michael Williams, a 43-year-old father from Highgate who worked for the Home Office in Pimlico, disappeared whilst travelling back home after an employee social. His body was found at Highgate Wood the next day. His killer has never been found.

The case remains unsolved despite being featured heavily in the national press and on BBC TV's Crimewatch programme.[10]

Notable inhabitants[edit]

St Michael's Church
Interior of St Michael's Church

Highgate Cemetery is the burial place of Karl Marx, Michael Faraday, Douglas Adams, George Eliot, Jacob Bronowski, Sir Ralph Richardson, Christina Rossetti, Sir Sidney Nolan, Alexander Litvinenko, Malcolm McLaren, Radclyffe Hall and Joseph Wolf.

The MP for the Hampstead and Highgate constituency since 1992 has been Labour's Glenda Jackson. It is now part of the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, formed at the 2010 general election. Catherine West is the Labour Party MP for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, which covers the northern half of Highgate village. The Boundary Commission report of 2003 recommended separating the Camden part of Highgate from the remainder of its present constituency and joining it with Kentish Town and Holborn to the south.

Many notable alumni have passed through Highgate School, either Masters or indeed Old Cholmeleians, the name given to old boys of the school. These include T.S. Eliot, who taught the poet laureate John Betjeman there, Gerard Manley Hopkins the poet, the composers John Taverner and John Rutter, John Venn the inventor of Venn diagrams, actor Geoffrey Palmer, Anthony Crosland MP and Labour reformer, and the cabinet minister Charles Clarke.

A blue plaque on a house at the top of North Hill notes that Charles Dickens stayed there in 1832, when he was 20 years old.

Peter Sellers lived as a boy in a cottage in Muswell Hill Road, where his mother had moved in order to send him to the Catholic St Aloysius Boys' School in Hornsey Lane.

In Victorian times St Mary Magdalene House of Charity in Highgate was a refuge for former prostitutes - "fallen women" - where Christina Rossetti was a volunteer from 1859 to 1870. It may have inspired her best-known poem, Goblin Market.

Siouxsie and the Banshees' bassist Steven Severin was born and brought up there.

Coleridge[edit]

In 1817 the poet, aesthetic philosopher and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to live in the Highgate home of Dr James Gillman in order to rehabilitate from his desperate opium addiction.[12] After Dr Gillman built a special wing for the poet, Coleridge lived there for the rest of his life, becoming known as the sage of Highgate.[13] While here some of his most famous poems, though written years earlier, were first published including "Kubla Khan". His literary autobiography, Biographia Literaria, appeared in 1817. His home became a place of pilgrimage for figures such as Carlyle and Emerson. He died there on 25 July 1834 and is buried in the crypt of St Michael's Church. The writer J. B. Priestley subsequently lived in the same house.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]